Anupama Hebbar – A Dispute Resolution Specialist

Ms. Anupama Hebbar, Partner @ Keystone Partners - Advocates and Solicitors.

A lawyer is the one who helps the neediest one in society. The law is the last hope for many people who are tackling critical problems. Commercial disputes are always been a speed breaker for the growth of businesses. No matter what business you are into such disputes may hold your growth back. At such a crucial time all you need is a lawyer you can trust on.

Ms. Anupama Hebbar is a lawyer with vast and diverse experience who can be an obstacle breaker for your business. She has been transforming businesses from long through the firm Keystone Partners – Advocates and Solicitors.

Let’s have a talk with her and get to know her journey towards prominence and the firm’s quality offerings in the landscape of law and litigation.

Tell us about Keystone Partners.

Keystone Partners is a specialist dispute resolution law firm with offices in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and New Delhi, and expertise in arbitration and civil and commercial litigation. Keystone Partners comprises a young, enterprising, and highly qualified team of 30+ lawyers, with experience across a diverse spectrum of subjects. Our firm was recognized in 2018 as the Best Law Firm to Work At, in a survey of 1000+ professionals conducted by Vahura. Keystone Partners has also been ranked among the leading Dispute Resolution practices in India by Legal 500, Benchmark Litigation, and the Indian Business Law Journal.

What were the initial challenges you faced? 

Keystone Partners is mainly formed of lawyers with no family background in law. Therefore, in the initial few years, attracting clients was an uphill task. But due largely to an incredibly talented pool of partners and associates, we were able to slowly, but surely make our mark.

Which was that point that triggered the growth of Keystone Partners?

The founding partners of Keystone Partners started off under the name of Naik & Srikumar in Bangalore in 2010. We then started offices in Delhi in 2010 and Mumbai in 2014. Keystone Partners in its present form was formed in 2014. The pan-India offering Keystone Partners was able to offer around this time gave a significant impetus to our growth. Due in large part to the repute that the partners had built both before and during their time at Keystone, we were entrusted with some very interesting work – some of which have been in the public eye. These matters have given the practice a shot in the arm.

Compassion is the Radicalism of our Time.

Dalai Lama

How have the Firm graphs changed since the foundation? Can you share a few statistics?

Keystone Partners has had a very steady growth trajectory since its inception. We have been very selective and cautious in our hiring strategy with a key focus on quality and maintaining the work ethos we’ve worked hard to build. Since 2014, we have grown at the rate of about 5 lawyers every year and are presently about 35 lawyers strong.

What is the reason behind your firm’s long-standing success?

It is without a doubt the talent pool of colleagues across our offices. We have very rigorous hiring practices. This ensures that our clients have the best legal advice, irrespective of the level of associate they are interacting with.

What are the services the firm focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?

The thing that differentiates us from a number of other firms is that we are an exclusive employee dispute resolution and advisory firm. We have offices and tie-ups across India and can advise on a wide variety of disputes, in almost any jurisdiction. We are modeled as a professional law firm and not as a law chamber, which is traditionally how dispute resolution practices have worked across India. Clients appreciate the professional approach we bring without the trappings of a large corporate law firm. The structure also encourages lawyers within the firm to work harder knowing full well that there are no glass ceilings.

I would encourage young lawyers to consider public law as an area of practice, and not have a blinkered vision of big money and commercial disputes.

Ms. Anupama Hebbar

Additionally, the partners at the firm each have their area of specialization making us a firm of many specializations. Senior Associates at the firm are also actively encouraged to subject area expertise after they have spent a number of years gaining familiarity with the wide range of dispute resolution services offered by the Firm. The knowledge and experiences are constantly shared within the team, and matters are staffed with this expertise in mind, to ensure that the clients of the Firm always receive expert input to their specific needs. I think this mix of sector-specific specialization built on a broader experience base gives us an edge.

How do you decide to take the firm a step further in terms of your services?

Keystone Partners is constantly looking to innovate and improve its services. For instance, we are presently working with a start-up, Centre for Online Dispute Resolution (CODR) looking to build an online dispute resolution platform. This helps us stay ahead of the curve and have a sense of the future of dispute resolution. This, in turn, equips us to better tailor our offerings to suit the needs of clients.

How have you seen diversity change over the years in the legal sector?

I have been in practice for 11 years now and I do not think the diversity has increased noticeably in the judiciary or in the wider bar during my time. I do think law offices (including us) have made internal changes and active efforts to be diverse and that will hopefully also result in a more inclusive bar and bench.

Can you please brief us about your professional experience?

I graduated with a B.A.LLB. (Hons.) Degree from National Law School of India University in 2008 and was admitted to the bar in the same year. I am also admitted as a Solicitor, England & Wales (currently non-practicing), after having completed my training contract at Simmons & Simmons, London.

I worked with Indus Law in their Dispute practice for many years before moving to Keystone Partners as a partner in 2015. I have handled matters before a wide variety of fora including the Supreme Court, Karnataka High Court, NCLT, and trial courts. I have a particular interest in, and regularly handle matters relating to insolvency, intellectual property rights, privacy, and public law. 

What are the key achievements of your journey in the law and litigation sector?

I think the greatest recognition for me came when the High Court of Karnataka selected me to be on the panel of lawyers advising the Official Liquidator of Karnataka. They thought I would be a good fit after seeing my work in commercial disputes. This is heartening because women lawyers are seen as advising mainly on issues of family law and the number of successful commercial women lawyers in Bangalore is in the single digits.

I was also was ranked as one of the top three upcoming law firm partners in India in the field of Dispute Resolution by an independent survey conducted by Vahura in 2018 and named as a Dispute Resolution Star by Benchmark Litigation in their 2019 Asia Pacific rankings.

How do you look after your employees? What makes your team unique?

We encourage openness and camaraderie within the team. There are no glass ceilings within Keystone Partners and associates are encouraged to participate in their own and the Firm’s overall growth. We have very low attrition rates (we must be doing something right!) and have won recognition as the Best Law Firm to work at within our category

According to you what next-generation women advocates and litigators should focus on?

I would encourage young lawyers to consider public law as an area of practice, and not have a blinkered vision of big money and commercial disputes. It is imperative that, on key constitutional questions, the youth bring their perspective and push the change that the country needs. Dispute Resolution has always had the reputation of unprofessionalism – young tech-savvy lawyers can change this.

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